Hallowe'en horror . . . it's the cost!

Alex Darcy is 45, lives in Suffolk with wife Jane, daughter Emma, 14, and son James, nine, and wonders how life got so . . . baffling

Alex Darcy is 45, lives in Suffolk with wife Jane, daughter Emma, 14, and son James, nine, and wonders how life got so . . . baffling

GROANS have been reverberating around the Darcy abode this week - seeping under doors and arrowing through keyholes - but it's not because of Hallowe'en. Well, it is a little bit. Both kids have circumvented the familial Bill of Rights, which fails to recognise this over-spun “celebration”, by skipping merrily through a couple of shops and cackling as they relieved the shelves of glow-in-the-dark fangs and stick-on black nails - accessories for which I have no need because my normal face is scary enough in the twilight of October, they inform me. Fortunately, that's about as far as it goes, since James's imagination is easily fired and he's too scared to open the door on the 31st, let alone venture out in the pitch black, while for Emma the lure of a warm sofa and an even warmer TV screen trumps the physicality of trick-or-treating any time.

For me, my involvement is limited to the annual office discussion/row about spelling. There are some (I won't name them, but we know their addresses and the spooks will have been round at midnight) who plump for the ugly and modern “Halloween”. Which is obviously so fatally wrong, and they should be forced to carve the word on 100 pumpkins using an old Ipswich Town season ticket. I choose the more elegant alternative featuring an apostrophe, the logic being that Hallowe'en is All Hallows'[ Even in condensed form. Never mind that e'en is shorthand for even, which in itself is a sawn-off version of evening. You have to draw the line somewhere, and apostrophes are already such an endangered species - David Attenborough is even making documentaries about them - that we can't afford to lose any more.

I can appreciate the old Irish and Scottish traditional of placing a candle in the window to remember lost loved-ones, and I like the way the two pragmatic Popes Gregory (if I remember school history correctly) shifted the Christian holiday of All Saints' Day from summer to autumn to try to cancel out the pagan knees-up. But, really, it's just a big old con imported from across the Atlantic - a forerunner to packages of toxic loans.

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You can imagine the businessmen - descendants of our New World cousins who tossed tea into Boston Harbour - coming back from their summer vacations and thinking “We've got people splashing out to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in late November, and then Christmas a month or so later; we need something earlier so we can make lots more money. Got it! Hallowe'en.” And then, later, some bright spark suggests transplanting the “tradition” to the old country to suck in even more dosh - and get their own back for the 1770s.

Still, we have sent them Ricky Gervais, so the score is one-all.

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Those groans I mentioned? The kids' default reaction whenever I suggest a stroll in the beautiful autumn sunshine, in a futile bid to prise them away from ITV3. “Oh come on,” I exhort, prodding them with James's plastic trident. “First one home gets to bob for an apple.”

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